Are we watching the same person?
He doesn’t privately fear that he’s an illegitimate president or harbor a “guilty conscience” that he won unfairly. He fears, and resents, that other people view him that way. To the extent that he remains focused on Hillary (he mentions Obama much more often than her, no?), it’s partly a product of that resentment and partly because she was such a useful foil for him in 2016. The one Democrat in the country whom we know for a fact he can beat in an election is Clinton. The whole point of the outreach to Ukraine about Joe Biden was to try to rerun the 2016 playbook against him if he made it to the general election — just like Hillary, he’s another swamp-dwelling Washington mainstay who landed a top job in the Obama administration and used his influence to benefit himself and his own. Hillary’s campaign received help from Ukrainian officials too, which explains why Trump continues to entertain the conspiracy theory involving CrowdStrike and the DNC server. At a moment when he’s not polling well head to head against any top Democrat, anything POTUS and his team can do to keep an unpopular figure like Clinton front and center is good for him.
How nice of her to lend him a hand with this latest media tour! And with buzzworthy social-media shots like this:
The president is a corrupt human tornado.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 30, 2019
A tantalizing thought from Jacob Heilbrunn: Could Trump’s impeachment jam encourage her to jump into the race? My money’s on “no, no one is so lucky that they’d get to face Hillary Clinton twice,” but keep hope alive:
Clinton’s aggrievement about the 2016 election should hardly come as a surprise. The belief that the election would be rigged was originally floated by Trump, but after he triumphed it was suddenly embraced by Democrats. The inconclusive Mueller Report was supposed to represent an extensive attempt to get to the bottom of the controversies swirling around the election and Russian influence, but only ended up heightening partisan polarization.
Now it’s difficult not to wonder if Clinton is pining for another go at Trump to try and prove that she has what it takes to oust him from the Oval Office. The conventional wisdom is that Biden is too old to make a real run for it and that Elizabeth Warren is too left-wing. Wall Street hates her as much as she hates it. By contrast, Hillary comes from what used to be called the New Democrat wing of the party. Wall Street loves her as much as she loves it. If she jumped in the race now, she could argue that now more than ever Democrats need her to regain what was stolen from them in 2016. The name of her book about the race was called What Happened. Now she could declare, “It’s happening!”
She’d lose the primary in a landslide if she got in, I suspect. She’d look strong early as Biden’s voters stampeded from him to her, abandoning a candidate who’s underwhelming on his best day but now saddled with Ukraine baggage, but the name of the game in this year’s race is “electability.” Democrats aren’t rolling the dice on anyone whom they have reason to believe would underperform against Trump. And as I say, there’s only one Democrat in America whom we know for a fact is capable of doing that.
Exit question: Between Trump and Hillary, who’s more obsessed with whom? Read Miranda Devine on that subject.